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What to eat with Italian food?

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Simplicity in every dish, Italian food has intense taste from tomatoes with bursting flavors of fresh herbs and vegetables that consist of a few high quality ingredients. 

Italian cuisine is rated top among the freshest, versatile, and tastiest foods in the Mediterranean. Aside from pasta, pastries, and pizza, Italians love integrating fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs that require a bit of a learning curve to find out the best pairing with Italian food.

What to eat with Italian food? Italian food is served in many courses starting with antipasti, pasta, meat, salad, soup, fruit and cheese, and ends with coffee and dessert. 

When serving pasta or lasagna, pair with side of breadstick or green salad to complete the meal. And for plain spaghetti, add a protein such as meatballs, salmon, shrimp, chicken, or steak.

Depending on the meat and sauce selection, the wine and beer pairing may vary. With light dishes, go with lighter ale, pilsner, Pinot Grigio or Chianti which may complement the acidity from the tomatoes and offer a cool taste to the spicy kick.

From freshly-caught seafood to farm grown vegetables, these are an integral part of Italian cooking for simple dishes with high quality result. Still, Italian food is among the healthiest and most fond cuisines worldwide. 

But what’s the secret to Italian cuisine? This article details the side dishes, flavors, and veggies to pair with Italian dishes.

What is a typical Italian meal?

Italians like keeping foods light for their last meal of the day. For instance, a typical Italian dinner might include soup, a small plate of pasta, or cold cuts served with vegetables and a small piece of cheese.

Additionally, an Italian meal comprises four courses (starter, first course, main course, and dessert), although this can be stretched to eight or more courses (the starter, first course, main fish course, main meat course, cheese, and dessert).

  • Aperitivo: spumante, prosecco, champagne with small dishes of olives and cheese
  • Antipasti: bruschetta, cold salmon, tuna antipasto, charcuterie plate
  • Primi: risotto, gnocchi, soup, lasagne, pasta
  • Secondi: chicken, beef, pork, lamb, turkey, seafood
  • Contorni: vegetable-based raw or cooked dishes
  • Insalata: salad
  • Formaggi e Frutta: seasonal fruits with cheese
  • Dolce: tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato, cannoli
  • Caffe: espresso

What is a good side dish with pasta?

Without additional sides, simple pasta is delicious and nutritious too. If you find yourself looking for side dishes to pair with pasta, always go for vegetables and proteins to make it fuller, tastier, and more aesthetically appealing. 

Side dish pairings with pasta include:

  • breadsticks 
  • garlic bread
  • brussels sprouts
  • sautéed zucchini
  • roasted artichokes and eggplant
  • avocado salad
  • steamed broccoli
  • meatballs
  • balsamic bruschetta
  • pesto

What veggies are good with Italian food?

Whether served fresh or roasted in the oven, a side of vegetables makes a great addition to Italian food. They offer unique texture and flavor that blends with herbs to make Italian food even more enjoyable.

  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • arugula
  • broccolini
  • broccoli rabe
  • carrots
  • cauliflower
  • spinach
  • celery
  • fennel
  • lacinato kale
  • portobello mushrooms

What goes well with Italian food?

Italian cuisine exemplifies simplicity and clean execution. Utilize various courses throughout a meal to introduce to your palette to dishes that elevate the overall experience.

  • Vegetable: kale, summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, potatoes, mushroom, artichokes, carrot, eggplant, broccoli rabe, arugula
  • Fruits: banana, lemon, apple, pear, kiwi, apricot
  • Nuts: pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts
  • Cheese: provolone, mozzarella, ricotta, fontina, parmigiano-reggiani, gorgonzola, blue cheese
  • Meat: veal, chicken, pork, beef, lamb, turkey, seafood, salmon
  • Cured meat: salami, sausage, prosciutto, pancetta, guanciale, speck, lardo
  • Pasta: penne, spaghetti, angel hair, pasta shells, gnocchi, ravioli, lasagna
  • Condiments: pesto, olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, butter, cream, capers
  • Herbs: basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley
  • Beer: farmhouse-style ale, pale ale, saison, wheat beer, Italian stouts
  • Wine: Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel, Chianti, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris

What flavor goes well with Italian food?

Italian dishes include classic herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves to marry the sauce and ingredients together.

Dried thyme is mainly added to roasted potatoes, meat, and stews. On the other hand, fresh thyme is used in dressings and salads since it has a more intense flavor.  

Rosemary is an Italian classic that gives meals a distinct aroma and herbal flavor. Add in some sage for pasta, fatty meats, roasted potatoes, chicken, and lasagna for authentic tastes all around. 

Bay leaves are also used to enrich the flavors of sauces, soups, and stews.

Here are classic Italian flavor combinations to learn more about:

  • spaghetti + red pepper + parmesan cheese + olive oil
  • shrimp + white wine + red pepper flakes + butter + olive oil + lemon juice
  • baguette + balsamic vinegar + parmesan cheese + basil + olive oil
  • basil + olive oil + parmesan cheese + pecorino cheese + pine nuts + garlic + salt
  • polenta + meat + butter + soft cheese
What to eat with Italian food

Eat with Italian Cuisine: Conclusion

Italian food is revered as a versatile and delicious cuisine to enjoy in the Mediterranean region. 

Most Italian foods are integrated with vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. During supper, Italians love light meals. 

Italian cuisine typically comprises four, eight, or more courses that can be eaten at one sitting including Apertivo, Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Contorni, Insalata, Formaggi e Frutta, Dolce, and Caffe. 

When serving tomato or cream based pasta, add a side of garlic bread, breadstick, roasted brussels sprouts, zucchini, broccoli, artichoke, and eggplant. As always fresh chopped salad and caesar salad is go-to side dish as well. 

Rich meat or seafood dish cannot be complete without a veggie sides. Use this guide to enhance your experience to the next level with Italian foods and flavor combinations.

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